Bee hieroglyph (Apis sp.)

Egypt, Beni Hassan, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), Upper Cemetery, South wall.

The Egyptian hieroglyphic script features many images of animals, including insects. The 'bee' hieroglyph (Egyptian name: bity) shown here is highly stylised, with exaggerated feet, unusually long antennae, and a beak-like head -- none of which is a characteristic of honeybees. The bee sign was a royal symbol, signifying the northern Delta region of Lower Egypt over which the pharaoh ruled. The insects also had religious significance for the Egyptians, with mythology stating that when the sun god Re wept one day, his tears turned into bees as they fell to the ground.

Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 12, Reign of Amenemhat II (c. 1918-1884 BCE).
Egypt, Beni Hassan, Upper Cemetery, Khnumhotep II (Tomb 3), South wall, upper eastern section.
Polychrome paint on limestone (photograph).
Relief (photograph).
Parent Context
Data Credits
Compiled by Linda Evans and the Beni Hassan Research Group with resources from the Macquarie University Ancient Cultures Research Centre, and the Australian Centre for Egyptology.
Project Funding
Supported by the Australian Research Council Discovery Project scheme: DP160102223 "Measuring meaning in Egyptian art: A new approach to an intractable problem" held by N. Kanawati (MQ), L. Evans (MQ), A. Woods (MQ) and J. Kamrin (Met), the Macquarie University Department of Ancient History, and the Macquarie University Faculty of Arts.
Original Citation
N. Kanawati & L. Evans, Beni Hassan: Volume I: The Tomb of Khnumhotep II (Australian Centre for Egyptology: Reports 36, Aris and Phillips, Oxford, 2014, ISBN: 978-0-85668-846-1), pls. 81b (photograph),
Recorded and published with permission from the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities. Photographs by Effy Alexakis as part of research on site. Copyright Macquarie University 2018. All rights reserved.
Cite this
Linda Evans "Bee hieroglyph (Apis sp.)." In The Beni Hassan Visual Dictionary: Khnumhotep II, edited by Alexandra Woods, Brian Ballsun-Stanton, and Nicolle Leary. Sydney: Macquarie University, 2018.